About Sex Trafficking
Sex trafficking occurs when someone gets money or something of value in exchange for another person performing sex acts, stripping, or taking sexual videos or pictures. More often than not, sex traffickers end up being people we see as trustworthy—that cute older guy in your DMs, the girl from the coffee shop you’ve been texting with, or unfortunately, even a beloved family member.
Instead of kidnapping their victims and keeping them in a dungeon, they use their victim’s love and trust to manipulate them into doing whatever they want, including sexual acts—oftentimes without anyone around them detecting something is wrong.
Sex Trafficking can appear in many different forms:
- Being tricked or coerced by a romantic partner
- Being forced into prostitution by fellow members of a gang or clique
- Being sexually exploited by a family member for money or drugs
- Or even being forced to trade sex acts for things you need, like food or a ride
Studies all over the US have told us that the average age of those victimized by these toxic, abusive relationships is between 14 and 16 years old. Traffickers also disproportionately target youth of color, LGBTQIA+ youth, youth who have been involved in the juvenile justice system, and youth who have been in the care of the state. Traffickers also often target youth who have experienced or are currently experiencing abuse, addiction, houselessness and mental health crises.
Unfortunately, cases of sex trafficking are only increasing as technology progresses. Traffickers are luring young victims via tablet, phone, even video game consoles and e-sports. In these online venues, victims are being enticed, entrapped, and in sold for sex. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there are 750,000 of these predators online worldwide at any given moment. Shared Hope’s National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking shows two-year 800% increase in reports of youth victims of sex trafficking exploited with the aid of technology.